June 9, 2016Wall Street Journal this week, yet another valuable pesticide product may eventually be removed from the market place. But despite the Journal’s assertion that the controversy stems from uncertain science, the real source is politics. Too...
June 7, 2016
It seems like an economic no-brainer that if you can raise the cost of a good or service, people will buy and consume less of that good or service. This is the broad theory behind sin taxes; goods that are viewed as having negative consequences for society are taxed to discourage use and pay for supposed financial burden they put on the public. They aren’t new—they’ve been around since at least Cleopatra’s reign when she taxed beer to mitigate public drunkenness (or pay for her war with Rome) and just about every culture utilizes sin taxes to raise revenue and nudge residents to make “better” choices. But do they work? That is the question Philadelphia’s City Council will hopefully...
May 5, 2016
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced broad new rules regulating the sales of cigarettes, cigars, hookahs and pipe tobacco. In addition to banning the sale of such products to consumers under 19 years old, they also bring e-cigarettes under the same onerous regulations as traditional tobacco products. While the public health goals of protecting consumers from possibly harmful vaping products and preventing kids from becoming addicted to nicotine are laudable goals, this heavy-handed approach will only likely push people—adults and teens alike—back toward far more harmful tobacco products.
While the long-term effects of vaping are still unknown, there’s little doubt that e-cigarettes are dramatically less harmful than other tobacco products. According to...
March 25, 2016
For most public health advocates, no amount of alcohol is safe. As they see it, any amount of alcohol increases a drinkers risk for certain negative health outcomes and they have tried to scare people into abstinence with tales of cancer, sexual assault, and fetal alcohol syndrome; all of which are real risks associated with alcohol consumption, but usually only in extreme quantities. Rarely will a public health official address the subtleties of risk or the possible physical and psychological benefits of low and moderate alcohol consumption. To do so...
February 17, 2016
Election years are particular divisive for lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Yet, last week members of the House managed to put partisan politics aside and approve a bill that would ease the regulatory burden of mandatory, one-size-fits-all menu labeling requirements. While some portray the proposal as “denying” consumers information, what it really does is give food service businesses flexibility in how they provide relevant nutritional information and other common sense alterations.
The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015 (H.R. 2017), introduced by Reps. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), passed in the House 266-144, with 33 Democrats and 233 Republicans approving the measure. The bill amends the Food and Drug Administration’s labeling requirements for food vendors with 20 or more locations...
February 8, 2016
Many, if not most proposals that make their way through Congress seem to have comically unsuitable names. However, at the end of this week the House of Representatives is expected to vote on a plan to remove one onerous, unneeded Obamacare regulation. A little known provision within Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires retail food establishments with 20 or more locations to list calories for regular menu items it serves on all signs and printed menus. While consumers might benefit from knowing calorie content, this one-size-fits-all mandate puts a big burden on small food retailers, and it could lead to unwanted price hikes. H.R. 2017—the Common Sense Nutrition...
January 7, 2016
As expected, the nutritional guidelines for 2015-2020 thankfully excised the long-standing warning against cholesterol-laden food in the wake of several decades of research demonstrating that the original warning was neither based on scientific evidence. However, the updated guidelines still advise Americans limit saturated fat and, in attempt to push Americans toward a plant-based diet, limit meat consumption. The consequences of such advice might not only fail to improve Americans’ diets, but may exacerbate the obesity problem in America.
While stopping short of recommending that Americans eat a plant-based diet for...
November 23, 2015
While most consumers are blissfully unaware, a provision tucked into the Affordable Care Act could cause food vendors a lot of headaches. Starting on December 1, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is supposed to require all chain food restaurants with 20 or more locations will have to list calorie information for “standard menu items” on all signs and printed menus. This includes pizza shops and grocery store salad or hot food bars which offer dizzying arrays of options and some that change daily. But businesses are fighting back and this week the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a bill backed by many in the industry.
The rule, which is intended to help...
November 2, 2015
This week, the House Energy and Commerce committee will hold a mark-up hearing on the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act (H.R. 2017), a bipartisan bill intended to deal with a little-known provision of the Affordable Care Act that could increase the burden on small businesses and unintentionally increase the price families pay when they eat at restaurants.
Provision 4205 of the ACA requires that retail food...
October 26, 2015
Bellion Vodka has one strange website. Bellion claims to be “the next step in the evolution of spirits” and “a smarter way to drink.” Its secret is NTX—“a technology developed to evolve spirits by making them functional and smarter.”
But if you’re hoping for more information, forget about it. There’s a warning that NTX will “not prevent alcohol intoxication, will not ameliorate the overall harmful effects that occur from drinking in excess, and will not render alcohol safe for those who suffer from alcoholism, liver disease, diabetes, or any other disease for which alcohol is contraindicated.” And there’s the factoid that NTX is trademarked by a company called Chigurupati Technologies.
Now websites announcing new breakthroughs are sometimes deliberately designed with an air of mystery, keeping the details secret in order to...